Emergency workers’ armour against the rising rate of dementia

Dementia Australia has released figures detailing a 68% increase in the disease over the past decade. In 2017, dementia deaths had risen to 41.6%.[1] It currently sits as the leading cause of death for women.

While there’s no direct correlation between high dementia numbers as a result of first responder work, some risk factors have a close relationship with the condition. Furthermore, dementia is linked to traumatic brain injuries, which emergency staff are more prone to than the general public.

The risk factors you can control

While age and family history play a role in the likelihood of dementia (particularly those in the 65+ age bracket), there are lifestyle choices that emergency staff can make to reduce the risk.

These strategies include regular exercise, following a Mediterranean-style diet (with high levels of B vitamins), minimising alcohol consumption, and sleeping well. Cardiovascular issues, diabetes and depression are conditions that need to be managed, as they’re linked to early development of dementia.

Here’s why we can’t forget people working in emergency services:[2]

  • Heart disease is diagnosed four years before the general public
  • Two to six times more police officers kill themselves, than are killed by bad guys
  • The average first responder sleeps only 6.5 hours 
  • 12-35% of workers suffer from PTSD
  • 90% of work stress is due to highly structured, uncaring administration
  • 48% of males and 40% of female officers consume alcohol excessively.

Why social connections & routine is key for our emergency workers

Staying socially active is just as important as physical health, particularly for those in emergency services. Studies have shown that social interactions might delay the onset of dementia, as well as reduce its symptoms. Having a social life outside of work also helps officers detach from horrific situations they experience while on-duty (without needing to rely on alcohol or other substances to temporarily find that peace of mind).

As with all forms of good health, the best way to approach it is through ongoing maintenance. There is no job quite like that of the first responder. Enduring daily physical, mental and emotional strain, tackling a disease as multi-faceted as dementia requires proactivity.

It’s your job to be sharp, focused, and able. And it’s ours to help you maintain it.

Cover like no other

We understand the demands of front line work more than any other insurer. After all, we've been looking after the health and wellbeing of the police community for more than 85 years. Whether you're already a member or interested in becoming one, call us to find out how to get the most out of our cover and benefits. We're here to help. 

Please note: some articles on this website are compiled from material obtained externally. Although we make every effort to ensure information is correct at the time of publication, we accept no responsibility for its accuracy. Health-related articles are intended for general information only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult your doctor. The views expressed in articles are not necessarily those of Emergency Services Health.